Wednesday, May 25, 2016

What Is the Church?

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” 

(Hebrews 10:24-25 ESV)

            When we think of the word “church”, a certain image comes to mind.  For most of us, the image is that of a building.  Perhaps it’s the image of a sanctuary.

            However, the word “church” literally means “assembly.” The church is, essentially, the people of God.  It’s the gathering together of his faithful.

            In our day and age, church has little to do with the gathering together of the body of believers.  For most of us, it’s simply the one hour each week that come for worship.  We come to sing the songs, to pray the prayers, and to hear the message.  But we don’t truly desire to interact with one another.   As soon as the service is over, we’re out the door.

            Most of us, today, think of the Christian faith as “Jesus and me.” We don’t think that our faith has anything to do with the church, the people of God.  And this contributes to the low priority we place on gathering together.

            In one sense, this thinking is correct.  Scripture tells us that we’re saved by the grace of God through faith in Jesus.  We aren’t saved by the faith of anyone else.  However, that being said, we have been called to make disciples.  We’ve been called to edify the body of Christ.  We’ve even been called to receive ministry from the church.  And these are not things we can do by isolating ourselves.

The Christian faith was never meant to be lived alone.  As we see in the above passage, we’re not to neglect meeting together.  We’re, instead, to consider how we might stir up one another to love and good works.  We’re to encourage one another.  And we’re to do so more and more as we see the Day, as we see the return of Christ, drawing near.

            We’re to seek ways that we might build up one another in faith.  We’re to encourage one another in the expression of our faith.  And this isn’t merely a one-time thing.  It’s ongoing.  It’s something we’re to do continually.  It’s something we’re to do more and more.

            When understood properly, gathering together with the church should be a priority for us.  It shouldn’t be done only when we have the time.  It should be something so important that we wouldn’t miss it.

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Honoring Moms Without Dishonoring God

“Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.”
(Psalms 139:7 ESV)

            Mother’s Day, as all of us know, reminds us to honor our mothers.  This, of course, is something we should do every day and not simply once a year.  But the holiday is a good reminder to us, because we’re often short-sighted.
            We also know the command of God, that we’re to honor our father and our mother.  So not only is this a good practice.  It is a command of God.  It falls in line with the will of God.  And, for this reason, by honoring our mothers, we are honoring God.
            However, in the course of doing this, we must not dishonor God.  There’s an example of this on a church sign in our town.  It reads: “Because God could not be everywhere, he created mothers.”
            I pass by this sign fairly often, and I’ve been gritting my teeth each time I do so.  I like to give people the benefit of the doubt.  So my hope is that this sign is simply a failed attempt to honor mothers.  My hope is that the person who posted it didn’t consider what it was saying about God, but merely what it was saying about mothers.
            I think all of us know and believe that our mothers are a gift from God.  After all, God used them to bring us into this world.  It was within the womb of our mother that we were knit together.  And mothers play a crucial role in bringing up their children.  They play a crucial role in raising their children in faith.
            Yet, in our effort to honor them, we must not diminish the honor that we give to the Lord.  We must always consider carefully what we are saying about God.  This, after all, is a very public statement.  And it’s telling people that God is limited.  It’s telling them that he’s not everywhere present.
            This is a denial of the very essence of God.  It denies the teaching of Scripture when it comes to the person of God.  And, for this reason, it has potential to give people the wrong idea about him.  It has the potential to lead people to a false understanding of God.
            As we see in the above passage, God certainly can be present everywhere.  And he is everywhere present. There is nowhere that we can flee from the presence of God.
            God didn’t raise up mothers because there was a task he was unable to perform.  He raised up mothers because he desired to use them in his work.  He is working through godly mothers to raise up godly offspring.
            We must be careful to present to mankind a right understanding of God.  When we do, this will in no way take away from the honor we give to our mothers, to our fathers, and to others in authority over us.  In fact, a right understanding of God will enable us to properly honor them. 
We’ll honor them for the role that they play in our lives.  We’ll honor them for the way God uses them in our lives.  And, in so doing, we’ll also honor the God who provided them to us.